October 1st is next week and you know what that means. Halloween!! In just a few short weeks kids will be getting dressed as their favorite characters going door-to-door getting as much candy as possible, but before the trick-or-treating comes the Halloween parties.
If you’re thinking of being the host of a party, Kate Tanner, Owner and President of Kidstop Toys, Arizona’s premier independent toy retailer and former president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association shares the below tips on how to make your party both lively and unforgettable without making you join the walking dead.
Costumes: Halloween is the ultimate imaginative holiday. Young or old, we all have the chance to be whoever we want to be. Much of the time, parents are busy with their everyday lives, so it’s easy to take the mainstream route of dressing your child as Barbie or Iron Man because it’s quick and easy. But make this year different! Get ahead of the game because children will remember moments like these for the rest of their lives. Brainstorm with the kids. You might settle on something completely unexpected, like a spooky chef or weeping willow tree. Whether you decide to embellish a store-bought number, or choose to put together something from scratch, have fun with it!
Are you and your kids art lovers? Why not bring your favorite artists’ work to life this Halloween? If you have several children, or friends of your child that would like to join in, create a “Traveling Modern Art Exhibition.” All you need is a sheet, lengths of canvas or muslin and some fabric paint. This is probably one of the easiest costumes to make. Look up a favorite modern artist, imitate their paintings, fasten the top corners of your creations to a black, long sleeve shirt, and there you have it… your very own walking Rothko, Mondrian or Pollack masterpiece!
Try out a role-reversal costume, such as “The Dog Walker!” Dress your child up in adult-looking attire, and Mom or Dad can dress up like a cute pooch ready to be taken out for a nice, long walk! Parents, put on the tee shirt, sweat pants, sneakers, tail and “paws” (socks placed over the hands). Then simply draw on a nose and freckles with an eyebrow pencil or use special face makeup. Accessorize with a headband, cuffs, collar and leash. This is great, interactive fun for parents and kids, and I am sure your kids will never forget the amusement of walking their “dog” all around the neighborhood!
Now, for those who would like to take more of a creepy-crawly approach, try out being “Earth” this Halloween. If your child has a good head of hair, then why not turn their mane into something more? Use a little green spray-on hair dye and some hairspray to create a sprouting grass look, and then just add in the plastic critters! You can get the critters to stick to the face with eyelash glue. Have them dress up in all brown to imitate dirt.
Décor: As you’re setting up for the party, centralize everything as much as possible. If you are lucky enough to live in the desert, you can make “The Party Room” your backyard or patio, if not then choose the living or dining room. That way, you’ll be able to focus your decorating efforts on one space, and you’ll have an easier time keeping track of the kids.
Covering furniture by draping them with white or off-white fabric is great for two reasons: 1. For ease of clean up and a minimized risk of drink and food stains on the sofa, and 2. It will also lend a haunted house vibe to your decorating efforts. You can purchase cheap fabric (or sheets) at a fabric or home goods store. To give them an old, dreary look, stain them with tea and you’ll have a shroud worthy of Dracula’s castle. There are several places online where you will be able to find directions on how to dye fabrics.
Cobwebs are a foolproof, no-hassle option for indoor décor. If you don’t have time to take the Martha Stewart route and hand-paint a paper-mâché graveyard, well, congratulations, you’re a normal person, and you can rest assured that a few packs of cobwebs strewn about the room will have just as big as an effect.
For another fun touch, you could easily create your own ghost votives by putting tea-light candles (fake candles are probably best for the younger party-goers) in white paper bags with ghost faces drawn on. Your kids can even help with the task! Yet another craft that calls for teamwork: cut out black construction paper bats to hang from the light fixtures. Use clear fishing wire to string them up, so that when you dim the lights, the bats will really appear to be in flight.
Food: Here’s your chance to really think outside the cracker! There’s no end to the amount of gross-out gourmet dishes you can create for your Halloween bash. You can’t go wrong, however, with a classic like gummy worm ice cubes (simply put gummy worms into the ice cube tray before freezing). Let’s avoid the pumpkin cupcakes and ghost shaped cookies this holiday. The Internet is swarmed with clever idea after clever idea of spooky snack inspirations, so do the research and set yourself apart from the rest! Popcorn is always an easy snack that kids seem to love. Try out the Maple Pumpkin Spice, Truffle Bacon or Salty Caramel popcorn recipes from organicauthority.com.
It is ideal to keep things simple when it comes to preparing food for a crowd. Create your own “Hummus Pumpkin” appetizer. Just scoop a ball of hummus onto a dish, cover it with carrot shavings and add a piece of green onion for a stem. Serve with pita chips and carve in! It’s healthy and appealing to both children and adults. More recipes like this can be found at bhg.com.
Games: And now the fun begins! If you want to turn the invitation process into a game itself, try setting the mood for your party with a Ghost-a-House invite (http://www.ghost-a-house.com). This unique invitation involves taking a ghost and treat bag to a friend’s house, ringing the doorbell and then running away without being seen! The fun continues online while you can track your ghost as it moves and “Ghosts” more of your friends.
When the time of the actual party arrives, have a few entertainment options at the ready, so that you’re able to keep things moving along. Make sure that the activities you plan are all-inclusive and group-oriented because it will keep everyone happy and make supervision much easier.
Here are a few ideas for party fun:
Bowling with “Ghouling” Pins: Draw ghost faces on white plastic pins and set up a game.
Musical Tombstones: Just like musical chairs, but thematically adjusted. Before the party, use gray paper or cardboard to create “tombstones” to attach to the backs of chairs. Later, you can engage kids in a game of musical tombstones, playing Halloween music and stopping to see who’s out of a grave. The players who lose their “resting place” are, of course, obliged to haunt the others as the game goes on.
Pumpkin Hunt: Using small, plastic pumpkins--you can find these in nearly any Halloween aisle--create the Halloween equivalent of the kid-favorite Easter egg hunt. Stash pumpkins filled with goodies throughout the room or in the backyard, and have children track down their treats.
If you do end up throwing a Halloween party for the kids remember to have fun. It's Halloween so let the creative juices start flowing and have a ghoulish time.